On Monday, October 10th, 2022, Dawson Community College hosted Indigenous Peoples' Day. A variety of events took place throughout the day culminating with a Land Acknowledgement Plaque Presentation. DCC President Villmer gave remarks before presenting the plaque to two DCC students (Evelyn Old Coyote and Chelsey Spang) and leaders from the Crow tribe. The ancestors of the Crow (Apsaalooké) tribe are one of the 5 tribes who originally inhabited the land where DCC now resides.
President Villmer's Remarks:
Good evening and thank you all for being here today. When Daneen Peterson first asked me to present this land acknowledgment plaque, I felt highly honored…… but also extremely unqualified. I immediately began self-reflection on what this day meant to me. Although I had heard of the holiday Indigenous Peoples Day before, it has not been something I have intentionally celebrated. I grew up sighting the same thing many others have on this day: "In fourteen hundred ninety-two. Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He had three ships and left from Spain; He sailed through sunshine, wind, and rain." Most everyone in this room is familiar with this song and with Columbus Day, yet the holiday of Indigenous Peoples Day receives nowhere near the attention it deserves. I do not recall being taught about Indigenous Peoples Day growing up, and because of this, I have done my own research on it.
Although today is the second time Indigenous Peoples Day has been celebrated and formally recognized as a federal holiday, the celebration of it has occurred long before. Indigenous People's Day is when we acknowledge the impact of the colonization of the western hemisphere, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous people still connected to this land on which we gather. This is a call for all of us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit.
As a part of this, Dawson Community College has a rich history of educating students and everyone on its campus. The walls and the halls of DCC capture the history of this institution. As you walk them, you will see plaques and acknowledgments of historical events that shaped the college and the culture of this college into what it is today.
Please come forward if you are a student here at DCC and have ancestors that originally inhabited this land. Please do not be shy!
We respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional shared territory of the Apsaalooké, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara, Métis, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ and Tséstho'e nations. We offer our gratitude to the Indigenous Nations for their care for and teachings about this land. We strive to honor those teachings.
As we continue to build history, we will hang this plaque next to our map of all the tribal territories in Montana in an area that all students and employees see daily!
This plaque forever represents the formal acknowledgment that native histories exist. As we move forward and build history, now it is a question of recognizing that native lives don't just exist in the past, but that Native students live right here at Dawson Community College and that Indigenous culture is not just part of history.
I want to thank you all once again for coming this evening! Today has truly been a celebration of the exciting culture of Native Americans, and I encourage each of you to honor and reflect on what this day means to you! In conclusion, I would like to have each of you stand that has ancestors that originally inhabited this land.